from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An ecclesiastical banner, especially one carried in processions.
  • n. The banner adopted by Constantine I after his conversion to Christianity.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The Roman military standard adopted by Constantine I. The banner was known for its Christian chi-rho sign - ☧.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The standard adopted by the Emperor Constantine after his conversion to Christianity. It is described as a pike bearing a silk banner hanging from a crosspiece, and surmounted by a golden crown. It bore a monogram of the first two letters (ΧΡ) (which appear like the English letters X and P), of the name of Christ in its Greek form. Later, the name was given to various modifications of this standard.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A Roman military standard adopted by the later emperors as the imperial standard.
  • n. A standard or banner of similar form, borne in ecclesiastical processions of the Roman Catholic Church.
  • n. Figuratively, a moral standard, guide, or device.


Late Latin, probably from alteration of Greek labrāton, laurel-leaf standard, from Latin laureātum, neuter of laureātus, adorned with laurel; see laureate.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin labarum, from Ancient Greek λαβαρόν (labaron). (Wiktionary)


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  • Catholic paraphernalia. Now there's a phrase. ;-)

    October 16, 2007

  • I see. I would have been raised Catholic if either of my parents had kept up with it; as it was, we only went to mass when visiting my grandparents in South Dakota. But I still have a soft spot for Catholic paraphernalia. :-)

    October 16, 2007

  • Mostly sentimental, npydyuan. One reason is that I was raised Catholic, and this symbol was worked into the railing around the altar at our church. Seeing it always makes me think of home. :-) I also like the visual symmetry and the meaning itself.

    October 16, 2007

  • There's that x again, just like in xmas. :)

    October 16, 2007

  • Curious: what reasons?

    October 16, 2007

  • Thanks, John. Always loved this symbol, for many reasons.

    October 16, 2007

  • "The labarum was a military standard which displayed the first two Greek letters of the word Christ ( Greek: ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ or Χ�?ιστός )—Chi (χ) and Rho, (�?).1 It was first used by the Roman emperor Constantine I (Greek: Μέγας Κωνσταντίνος ).

    The etymology of the word before Constantine's usage of it is unclear."
    - Wikipedia

    October 16, 2007